South African jazz musician Ray Phiri dies at age 70
Ray Phiri, a South African jazz musician who founded the band Stimela and became internationally known while performing on Paul Simon’s Graceland tour, died of cancer on Wednesday at age 70. Phiri, a vocalist and guitarist known for his versatility in jazz fusion, indigenous South African rhythms and other styles, received many music awards in his home country. His death was met with nationwide tributes. “He was a musical giant. This is indeed a huge loss for South Africa and the music industry as a whole,” President Jacob Zuma said in a statement. Political parties also expressed condolences, saying Phiri’s songs resonated among many South Africans, particularly during the era of white minority rule that ended in 1994. Stimela’s best-known albums include “Fire, Passion and Ecstasy” and “Look, Listen and Decide,” and Phiri contributed as a guitarist to Simon’s “Graceland” album in the 1980s. The album evolved from Simon’s interest in indigenous South African music.